To summarise the last few days, it is safe to say my review of Enderal was extremely popular. That is a good thing!
Welcome to my next author interview! This time it is with the awesome Steven Raaymakers, who’s first novel A Canticle of Two Souls came out last month. Check it out down below:
Looks pretty awesome I say! I managed to track the crafty author down for an interview and a few pints (or a dozen pints), and got a decent discussion out of him. Check him out!
- First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I write fantasy, study law, and read everything. I’ve recently published my first novel, ‘A Canticle of Two Souls’, and am working on the sequel, as well as some short stories in a different world.
- How do you develop your plots and characters?
I find my characters in places they consider to be the lowest they could ever fall, and then I rip the floor out from under them. For example, in the ‘Aria of Steel’, Raziel’s family was slaughtered, and he’s hungry, cold, and covered in blood at the start. But within two chapters things only get worse. It is easy to be strong when we are healthy, have a roof over our heads, and lots of food and security. But what impresses me are characters who are weak, downtrodden, and exiled from normal society, but who raise their heads nevertheless and create their own path in life. If we were to bring it into a real-world perspective, I admire people from bad or poor homes/backgrounds who go on to build a successful career and/or raise a happy family. These are the real heroes of society, in my opinion.
- Tell us about your current project.
I am working on ‘Traces of Magic’ at the moment, which is a series of short stories following a crippled woman called Melanie Stake. Set in the grimdark world of Verpace, which was torn apart by a magical war, on a scale greater than what a nuclear war would be today. The world is very interesting, with magic considered a curse, causing severe mutation and twisted abilities. It is violent, emotional, and full of questions.
- Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
My novels in the Aria of Steel trilogy focus on Raziel. He is a deeply troubled 14 year old in the first book, who wields a speaking sword. The sword isn’t a good influence, to say the least, and the violence only adds to his trauma. The novels revolve around his search for redemption, and a girl called Alicia, who he meets early on. Alicia is a Warchild, a person who can hear emotions as music, and can manipulate anyone’s emotions by simply looking into their eyes. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it’s a wild ride!
- What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Write! Read, research the craft, learn new words and phrases, but most of all write. You can’t improve if there is nothing to improve on.
- What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
My home country, New Zealand, is a huge influence on the physical worlds I make. The beautiful landscapes here are pure inspiration. I am also a fantasy-landscape artist, so that helps. For societies, I look at history, and modern society, as well as religions and the effects of technology on people. That technology aspect is important in regards to magic, as technology and science, especilially the higher realms, are completely beyond understanding for most people. Arthur C Clark said it best: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Capturing the wonder of technology and transforming that wonder into magic is always my goal. I also like to leave a bit of mystery in my worldbuilding. We don’t understand everything in our world, and I think good fantasy worlds should be just as complex and mysterious.
- What inspires you to write?
I love reading, so creating stories was a logical step for me. The passion I feel for my writing is very strong, and I have a lot of stories planned! My dreams often have a strong influence. The second story in ‘Traces of Magic’ has elements from a dream I had when I was 12 or 13 (I’m 28 this year). I remember that dream vividly, and if I can capture the weird atmosphere of that place in my writing, I’ll be ecstatic.
- What was the hardest part of writing this book?
‘A Canticle of Two Souls’ threw many challenges at me, but the greatest ones came from life. I was distracted by work, relationships, and moving cities. Laziness was also a factor which I had to discipline myself to overcome. Procrastination is something I have greatly eradicated from my personality. I now manage to write novels while studying law, and I am doing quite well.
- What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The ending. My girlfriend recently finished the book, and called me. Between her literal tears, and curses for being so mean to my characters for the entire novel, I heard her ask if I cried while writing the ending. Yeah, I cried. It is a very emotional moment, and you can probably notice I’m trying not to spoil it for anyone here, but it’s the best part of the book, in my opinion. And I think that’s how every ending should be.
Apart from that, I love writing battle scenes. Swords and armour and blood, my excitement is clear in my writing haha!
- Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned that I can write a book, but more importantly, I can write a good book. This boosted my confidence and helped me a lot while editing, knowing that once the groundwork is there, you can tidy it up and perfect it. Also, as mentioned above, it helped me realise how detrimental laziness and procrastination can be.
- It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Raziel was easy to understand, for me. He had a rough past, was given too much power, and went a bit mad. That’s a story anyone can understand and empathise with. Alicia, on the other hand, was a mystery. Her past is also traumatic, but the magic which she wields was the tough part. What does it feel like to be a fifteen year old girl who has a dangerous power, and no one to guide you? How do you know right from wrong when there are no clear rules? A lot of her personal struggle is against self-disgust at her unnatural powers, and the exile she feels. I believe her character is the best I have written, just for the internal dialogues and reasoning she goes through.
- What are your future project(s)?
I plan to finish the ‘Aria of Steel’ trilogy by Jan 2020, and have about eight stories for ‘Traces of Magic’ by that time too. After that, I’ll be working on an entirely new world, which already has two books largely outlined and over thirty pages of worldbuilding notes! There is also a standalone novel in, again, a different world, which will be written somewhere between all these books.
- If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Honestly, I love my law degree. It is absolutely fascinating, and I plan to be a solicitor after graduating. My writing will always be part of my day, though, and I see no reason to pick exclusively one or the other at this point in time.
- What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
I love hearing from fans! Message me via facebook, or tweet me.
www.facebook.com/stevenraaymakersauthor is my Facebook.
www.stevenraaymakers.com is my website, sign up for email updates to hear the latest news.
www.twitter.com/SVRaaymakers is my Twitter.
It was great to hear from you, Steven! Check out his book, it’s going to be a good ride! I plan on getting some book reviews out in the coming weeks, I know I have been slow with them lately. I think I also have a couple more gaming articles as well, including beginning my Top 20 of all time. That will be entertaining. Check out my other author interviews down below. If you would like one, just contact me via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org